IN 2009 the Johannesburg Development Agency (JDA) committed a small grant to Affordable Housing Company(Afhco) to establish a pilot rooftop food garden at the African Diamond Building at 101 Goud Street. After much research and testing, the Afhco team, led by Lebo Mashego, developed the concept design for a sustainable garden that is constructed using recycled tyres and other planters with a worm garden to ensure a constant supply of fertiliser and compost to feed the garden.

During the research process, Afhco entered into a partnership with The Greenhouse Project, an established NGO that promotes sustainable construction and living strategies. Based in Joubert Park, the Greenhouse team provided excellent advice and assistance based on years of experience with urban food gardening. The funding has been spent largely on waterproofing the roof, paving pathways, securing the garden, and fitting an irrigation system.

On Wednesday 6 July 2011, a team of JDA employees joined Afhco and Greenhouse on the African Diamond Roof to begin setting up planters and planting the first seedling vegetables. Doreen Khumalo of Greenhouse directed the enthusiastic workers who flexed their muscles by carrying pallets and compost up to the roof; stacking and filling tyre planters with good soil and compost; and planting seedlings.

The JDA Corporate Social Investment (CSI) objective is to support communities in the areas within which development projects are located. The JDA has worked in the inner city for the last 10 years, amongst them are the refurbishment of the Chancellor House building, upgrading of the commuter links and the Ernest Oppenheimer Park. The rooftop food garden proposal offered an opportunity to promote sustainable urban living through local food production, improved nutrition and food security for local residents, and livelihoods for some members of the inner city community who can raise incomes by selling vegetables that they grow.

Afhco and the Greenhouse Project will ensure that the gardeners are trained to plant, grow and maintain vegetables, and that the garden is maintained and managed well. The project is expected to be completed by end of July 2011.

The Johannesburg Development Agency is an agency of the City of Johannesburg that undertakes area-based based development initiatives throughout Johannesburg in support of the City of Johannesburg’s development strategies. The JDA co-ordinates and manages capital investment projects involving both public and private sector stakeholders in order to:

  • Promote economic growth through the development of efficient business environments in defined geographic areas;
  • Regenerate decaying areas of the city to grow the economy of the city and improve the quality of life of its residents; and
  • Promote productive partnerships and cooperation between stakeholders.

Alice Moloto
Marketing Manager: Internal Communications and Special projects